Architects: Studio SUMO Location: Sakado, Japan Design Team: Sunil Bald + Yolande Daniels, principals-in-charge; David Huang, project designer; Shai Turner, Brad McCoy, James Khamsi, Jeff Dee Architect Of Record: Obayashi Design Department, Obayashi Corporation, Tokyo Completion: 2006 Building Area: 6,200 sqm Client: Josai University, Tokyo, Japan Photographer: Courtesy of Nacasa Co. Ltd.
Unlike the other buildings on campus that are efficient but uneventful collections of classrooms, the faculty of the 70,000sf Josai School of Management school desired an environment that might foster an entrepreneurial way of thinking, countering the conventional Japanese paradigm of preparing students for corporate culture. Therefore the project promotes integration with the surrounding landscape, with the life of the university, and between students and faculty. Responding to an oddly contoured and multi-level site, the building is a single-loaded bar that turns back onto itself and connects head to tail through a glass bridge. This defines three courtyard spaces and allows views across different points of the building.
The sloping floors of the auditoria negotiate varying site levels to create an outdoor dynamic path that slips under the building to a central courtyard and hillside beyond. Everyone can engage the building without entering it. This path is bracketed by informal and accessible public spaces for interaction and learning. On floors 3-5, light-filled circulation zones with operable windows that make a continuous fresh air circuit serve classroom blocks. All spaces of the Josai School of Management – indoor, outdoor, classroom, courtyard, and corridor – are considered learning spaces.
Within the block, classrooms can be reconfigured to occupy from one bay (40 students) to three bays (150 students). The path to the hillside allows one to experience much of the building without entering. Moving under the bridging slab and along the concrete block of the large auditorium, one encounters the media lab, a wireless space for working alone or collaboratively. A set of stairs takes one to the 2nd level courtyard, a social core formed by the void of the winding slab. This outdoor room is bracketed by the main stair to the east, the glass bridge to the west, and the classrooms to the north and south. This courtyard is punctured by 5m wide eliptical skylights that illuminate the media lab below.
At the Josai School of Management, all spaces – indoor, outdoor, formal, informal, room, or hallway – are considered learning spaces. In the project, the informality of the media lab, café, and patterned landscape compliments the more structured and internalized lecture spaces. The visual connections the building makes with itself and the rest of the campus promote a sense of openness and community. Furthermore, the connection to the hillside, incorporates topography into campus life. Once the wooden courtyard slips under the glass bridge, it forms a raised platform for outdoor café seating and a direct connection to the hillside. The grassy slope also becomes a seating area to view the weekly film series now projected on the 12m x12m concrete wall on the building’s west end. The grain of the campus also exerts a strong influence on the building form. This grain is inscribed in the ground, and takes on various materialities and uses – paving, benches, plants, lighting, and carpeting – as it moves through, under, and into the project.